Natalia, the Ukrainian orphan accused by her former adoptive family of being a disturbed adult masquerading as a child, addressed nearly every allegation lodged against her during a Thursday Dr. Phil exclusive sit-down.
The revealing interview fills in some of the blanks in Kristine Barnett and her now ex-husband Michael Barnett’s story after they first spoke out about Natalia, who has a type of dwarfism called spondyloepiphysea. The former couple claimed she poisoned their drinks, stood over them holding knives as they slept, and smeared blood on the walls of their home. They also alleged that Natalia was much older than her initial adoption papers led them to believe.
When asked point blank by Dr. Phil whether she’s a scam artist lying about her age and terrorizing the Barnetts, Natalia responded, tears streaming down her face, that none of it’s true.
“I’m 16,” Natalia said. She came to the U.S. through an adoption agency whens she was 6, she claims, and her birthday is September 4, 2003.
Natalia’s new adoptive parents, Antwon and Cynthia Mans, appeared on the show with her. Cynthia held her hand during most of the interview.
“It’s terrible that they’re trying to make her out to be this monster [in the press]” Cynthia said.
“She didn’t display any kind of psychotic behavior,” Antwon added. “I think there’s something that [Kristine] is hiding hat she doesn’t want to get out.”
After Natalia came to the U.S., she was shuffled from family to family, before landing with the Barnetts. She was happy with them at first, she says. But everything changed when Natalia underwent a surgery. Kristine, she says, started questioning her age. Then, she accused Natalia of putting house cleaner in her coffee and pushing her into an electric fence.
“None of that happened,” Natalia said. “[Kristine] said I put knives on top of the fridge [too], but I can’t even reach that high.”
When Dr. Phil pressed Natalia about standing over the Barnetts with a knife as they slept, Natalia teared up. “No,” she said.
The Barnetts allegedly abandoned Natalia in an apartment in 2013. When the Mans family discovered she was living alone, they invited her to stay with them. Antwon says after Kristine found out, she called him and suggested they put her in a psychiatric facility, because “she’s crazy.”
Natalia has been living with the Mans family for nearly eight years now. The Barnetts have since pleaded guilty to two counts of felony neglect of a dependent. “They should do the responsible thing, do their time and get it over with and get right with God,” Natalia told Dr. Phil. “It’s not right to do that to a child.”